Access to good coffee

Maureen Corrigan
I love drinking good coffee. I also enjoy learning about different types of coffee. I have favourite cafés I like to visit. I also like to hear of new places I can try. I like reading guides to Melbourne's cafés. The guides rate the quality of the coffee. But I have not seen a guide that considers accessibility of cafés. I decided to rate them myself. I found five cafés in Melbourne that were accessible and had great coffee. But many cafés were hard to access. They also did not have accessible toilets.
Posted by: 
Maureen Corrigan on 11/07/2011
A small cup of black coffee. There is a teaspoon resting on the white saucer.

I love drinking good coffee

I love drinking good coffee. I was so excited when I read an article in The Age about Melbourne's best cafés. The Age has also released the Good Café Guide 2011. I bought it as soon as I could. I already had the Melbourne Coffee Review and updated it often. I wanted to see how my favourite cafés were rated. I also wanted to see what new cafés I could try.

Coffee experiences

Melbourne is special for many reasons. Its coffee is certainly one. I recall my coffee experiences when I first arrived in Melbourne 25 years ago. I was driving from Sydney and my first coffee stop was a disaster. I spotted an espresso machine in a café and went in. When the person serving picked up a jar of instant coffee, my mouth dropped. Don't you use the machine? I asked. No, people here don't like it made that way was the reply.

My second coffee stop was along Bridge Road in Richmond. I asked for a flat white. I then asked the man if he used an espresso machine to make the coffee. He looked at me as if I had come from another planet. But of course! he said in an Italian accent. The coffee was good. So was a cup I had in the city the next day. I had made it to the coffee capital at last.

Lot of changes

There have been a lot of changes in the coffee world since then. People are particularly interested in where the beans come from. Many people only choose "fair trade" coffee which helps ensure better prices for growers. Some roasters now also buy direct from the growers. Coffee aficionados also now seek out coffee from micro-lots. These are exceptionally cared for coffee beans.

There are many different roasts and blends now available. Melbourne does well in the roasting and blending scene. Information on the origin, blend and roast is usually available at good cafes. Brewing the beans has changed too. Techniques include pour-over, syphon, chemex and aeropress. But I still prefer espresso. I have found that people are really interested in learning more about good coffee. They are talking about things like the grind and the best machines. They are also swapping stories of good baristas.

Accessibility review

I think coffee has to be good otherwise there is no point in drinking it. But I was disappointed that The Age did not consider accessibility in their reviews of Melbourne's cafés. I decided to review them myself.

I considered ease of entry, whether there was enough room inside, and the availability of an accessible toilet. I was thrilled that many accessible cafes also had great coffee.

Great coffee

Cafés I visited that were accessible and had great coffee:

  • Chez Dre in South Melbourne has wheelchair access via 10 Hotham Street through the courtyard
  • De Clieu in Fitzroy has an automatically opening glass front door
  • Dead Man Espresso in South Melbourne has a good ramp up from the footpath
  • Pope Joan in Brunswick East is also good, although the ramp at the entry door is a bit steep
  • Seven Seeds in Carlton is accessible but you might need someone to open the door for you.

Other cafés that are accessible and have good coffee:

  • Omar and the Marvellous Coffee Bird in Gardenvale
  • The Hardware Societe in Melbourne
  • Mr Tulk at the State Library of Victoria in Melbourne.

Not accessible

I also found many cafés that had great coffee but were not accessible. Some of the cafés were difficult to get into. I had to settle for take-away. It was also disappointingly common for venues not to have an accessible toilet.

I hope The Age in future considers accessibility for their next guide. It would make it much easier for people with a disability to find a good coffee. I love good coffee so I hope I can find more cafés with good access.

Readers comments (10)

Is anyone out there interested in teaming up to do a more comprehensive review of accesibility of cafes in Melbourne? We can publish it online for everyone.


Great article, Duncan, well done, just a thought if you would consider expanding the category to include venues that are licensed? Not necessarily talking about hotels.
Many good cafes also sell a nice glass of red. Anyway just a thought.
Happy to support your idea to expand this much-needed guide to people with mobility restrictions.


John McKenna

Um, I never wrote the article. Maureen deserves your praise, not me.

I'm happy to include licensed venues though. I'm particularly interested in the accessibility issues other people face. As a wheelchair user, my issues are broadly similar to Maureen's but recently there was an article on accessibility of pubs in Melbourne for the vision impaired ( The more criteria we have, the more useful an accessibility guide would be.

Maureen here, thanks Duncan. The first draft of my article included a lot more cafes with varying levels of accessibility. Against the one, two and three bean scores for coffee I awarded one two and three wheelchairs for the level of accessibility. The accessibility requirements are set out in detail in the other dining stories in DiVine. But in the end we decided that we could not promote any cafe that was not fully accessible or scoring 3 of my wheelchairs. I am happy to give you the work I've done to date. Maybe I should put in on my blog and update it as I visit more.

Great start Maureen. Should be a requirement for any reviewer of restaurants/cafes etc to state the accessability. Thanks again. Jane.

Thanks & yes Jane I agree with you, especially if it is good coffee or food! Maureen

Just found another great coffee place with great accessibility. There is a easy entry with a ramp, plenty of space inside and there is a disabled toilet. The cafe food is good with wonderful artisan bread. It is interesting too as glass wall lets you see through to the commercial bakery part. It is called Brasserie Bread and is at 150 Thistlewaite Street, South Melbourne phone 1300 966 845. Maureen still exploring good coffee places.

Home now from another accessible cafe with good coffee. it is called Maison Ama Lurra at 123 Howard Street, North Melbourne, phone 9329 6622. It has easy slightly up-sloped entries with lots of room inside and a disabled toilet. It advertises itself as a Specialty Coffee and Fine Teahouse. Light lunch was good too with great bread. There is also wifi and accessible meeting rooms.

Travelling chair

Travelling Chair is a new networking site where people with access needs can rate, review and share information on public venues. With enough reviews this site can be used to find accessibility information about everything from clubs to kindergartens.

You could start a good coffee category

Has anyone considered assessing the quality of service people with disability get at cafes? As a coffee fan with low vision its important that I get good service eg having menus read to me, help with finding an empty table & assistance to get around obstacles & locating the toilets. Another important issue is good signage & being able to easily find the door.

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